Natus Vincere defeated Team Spirit 2-0 in the opening round of ESL Pro League season 16 today off the back of an impressive team effort.
Instead of Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev popping off as usual, the whole NAVI squad played well and left no room for Spirit to take even one map of the best-of-three series. This is just Spirit’s second tournament with their new young AWPer Igor “w0nderful” Zhdanov, who was signed in June to replace Abdulkhalik “degster” Gasanov, and the 17-year-old proved his worth as he finished the series versus NAVI with the best K/D ratio of the game (44-30), despite the 2-0 loss.
The battle on Nuke opened the CIS derby and NAVI controlled Spirit quite well, despite playing in their rivals’ map pick. S1mple and crew won their CT side 9-6 and displayed good tactics and map control playing as Terrorists in the second half, quickly closing the map 16-11. The action moved to Dust 2 and NAVI’s impressive T side (11-4) left them in a great spot to play as Counter-Terrorists and close the map 16-9.
NAVI’s Ilya “Perfecto” Zalutskiy was the second top fragger of the series, having finished with 37-27 K/D just below Spirit’s w0nderful. The only player to finish with negative fragging numbers on NAVI’s side was Denis “electroNic” Sharipov, the star player that has been shot-calling since the departure of Kirill “Boombl4” Mikhaylov in May.
The ESL Pro League season 16 group A action will carry on with Vitality vs. Endpoint at 9am CT and Ninjas in Pyjamas vs. Fnatic at 12:30pm CT to close out the first day of the $823,000 tournament.